At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills following the special session that took place earlier in the week.
DeSantis signed Senate Bill (SB) 4-A which provides $750 million for additional disaster relief to Floridians following Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. The governor also signed SB 2-A, a property insurance reform bill, into law, insisting it will help “to stabilize our property insurance market, increase competition, and strengthen consumer protections.”
“We have taken an all hands on deck approach to cut through bureaucracy to help our communities recover from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole,” said DeSantis. “I want to thank the Legislature for bringing additional disaster relief to communities across the state as we continue our historic recovery.
“The issues in Florida’s property insurance market did not occur overnight, and they will not be solved overnight. The historic reforms signed today create an environment which realigns Florida to best practices across the nation, adding much-needed stability to Florida’s market, promoting competition, and increasing consumer choice. I am thankful the Legislature answered the call for meaningful reform,” he added.
“I am honored to stand beside Governor DeSantis and Senate President Passidomo after a productive Special Session that was focused on providing Floridians with much needed relief,” said House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast. “The Florida House and our Senate partners faced the challenge of stabilizing the property insurance market and providing Floridians affected by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole with critical resources to recover quickly and efficiently. We are all feeling the effects of inflation and rising insurance premiums, so we took action to deliver consumer driven reforms that expedite the claims process and curb frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs. I witnessed the devastation from the recent hurricanes and was proud of how our chamber came together and rose to the occasion. The results of this Special Session provide Floridians with the peace of mind that they will be able to access a robust property insurance market and our local communities will have the financial assistance to recover and rebuild better than before.”
“When the overnor and I walked through the communities impacted by Ian in the days that followed the storm, the devastation was almost indescribable,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples. “The governor made a promise that he would be here every step of the way as we work to recover, and he has kept that promise. The legislation he is signing today provides three quarters of a billion dollars in additional hurricane relief funding that will make a huge difference for impacted communities in Southwest Florida and across our state. This legislation provides tax relief for owners of destroyed homes, housing assistance for displaced Floridians, and funding for reconstructing impacted beaches and essential water infrastructure. We are also providing $350 million to help local government to pay local match requirements for FEMA Grants. With the continued leadership and support of our great Governor, our community is bound and determined to rebuild stronger and better than ever.”
SB 4-A, Disaster Relief, provides property tax relief for homes rendered uninhabitable due to the storm. Additionally, the bill provides $750 million for the communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, including:
$350 million to support the entire portion of local government match for FEMA Public Assistance, freeing up local funds to undertake additional hurricane recovery and mitigation projects.
This important matching money may provide up to $7 billion in reconstruction and recovery projects undertaken by local governments depending on the applicable federal cost share.
$150 million to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to support local beach renourishment projects and a new Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program to assist homeowners with coastal hardening and fortification to protect their property against the severe coastal erosion from both Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
The bill also authorizes DEP to waive local match requirements for beaches in these impacted areas.
$100 million to DEP to repair and reconstruct community stormwater and wastewater infrastructure that was damaged by Hurricanes Ian or Nicole.
$150 million to continue efforts to support homeowners and renters impacted by the storms through the Hurricane Housing Program and Rental Recovery Loan Program.
SB 2-A, Property Insurance, is the most significant property insurance reform bill in recent history, strengthening Florida’s property insurance market by:
Eliminating one-way attorney fees for property insurance claims, which will disincentivize frivolous lawsuits, and realigning Florida’s market to best practices that will promote more market competition in the private insurance industry.
Reducing the burden of excessive and predatory litigation will help bring down costs for homeowners.
Enhancing the Office of Insurance Regulation’s ability to complete market conduct examinations of property insurers following a hurricane to hold insurance companies accountable and prevent abuse of the property appraisal process.
Reducing timelines for insurers to get payments out the door and back into the hands of policyholders as they rebuild their lives.
Building on reforms passed earlier this year by committing additional funding to provide temporary reinsurance support to help stabilize our market.
SB 2-A, Property Insurance, builds on progress made during the Special Session held earlier this year to address concerns with the property insurance market. After that Special Session, Governor DeSantis signed SB 2-D which enacted pro-consumer measures to help alleviate rising insurance costs, increased insurance claim transparency, and cracked down on frivolous lawsuits which drive up costs for all Floridians. This built upon previous actions taken by the Governor on property insurance including signing House Bill 7065 in 2019 to curtail Assignment of Benefit abuse and SB 76 in 2021 which restructured litigation rules for insurance claims to reduce the burden of excessive litigation.
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